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Five French Writers for Bastille Day

Saturday is Bastille Day, mes amis! We combed through our backlist and our Online Exclusives to showcase five innovative writers reshaping the French literary landscape.

Marie NDiaye

I’m very aware of my little smile. Because I’m saying to myself: is this all really real?

When we published Jordan Stump’s translation of All My Friends in 2013, The Rumpus called Marie NDiaye “an example of exactly the kind of non-Anglophone writer who should have already been translated in full.” After all, in her native France, NDiaye had won the Prix Femina and the Prix Goncourt, plus she was one of ten finalists for the 2013 International Booker Prize, alongside Lydia Davis and Marilynne Robinson. To date we have published three books by Marie NDiaye, and each one showcases a different format for her exceptional, unsettling prose: All My Friends, Self-Portrait in Green, and My Heart Hemmed In.

All My Friends is now 75% off! If you’re a fan of NDiaye but haven’t read this short story collection, now is your chance. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly wrote that NDiaye “brings to life an electrifying rogue’s gallery of social outcasts, disgruntled wives, and loony strivers.”

Julien Delmaire

I separate silence into parallel limbs.

Julien Delmaire is a poet, novelist, and playwright. He has performed spoken word and poetry across the world, in addition to organizing writing workshops in schools, psychiatric hospitals, prisons, and libraries. We published an excerpt from his poetry collection Bogolan in our Two Lines 28 Online Exclusives, translated by Hodna Nuernberg and Patricia Hartland. Composed of forty poems, Bogolan tells the story of a return to Thiaroye, the working-class suburb of Dakar, Senegal, that was the site of the 1944 Thiaroye Massacre, a watershed moment in African nationalism. Read an excerpt from Bogolan.

Emmanuelle Pagano

When we’re alone he never stutters, but as soon as we’re out in public, having a drink with friends, he turns to me on the slightest pretext, multiplying my name in his mouth.

Emmanuelle Pagano is the recipient of numerous awards, including the European Union Prize of Literature for her novel Les Adolescents troglodytes. In 2016 we published her novel Trysting, translated by Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis. A seductive blend of Maggie Nelson and Marguerite Duras, this novel seizes romance’s slippery truths by letting us glimpse nearly three hundred beguiling relationships: scenes between all genders and sexualities.

Trysting is now 75% off. This book is the perfect summer read. To quote Mark Haber of Brazos Bookstore: “Beguiling and uncategorizable, it celebrates the joys and heartbreaks of being alive.”

Khal Torabully

Ahoy, I will be a referent of men,
I will stand with the lot of them.

Khal Torabully is from Mauritius and writes in French and Mauritian Creole. He is a prize-winning poet, essayist, film director, and semiologist who has authored some 25 books, and coined the term “coolitude,” much in the same way that Aimé Césaire developed the concept of negritude.

Nancy Naomi Carlson translated three of his poems,which you can read on our Online Exclusives: “[Ahoy, I will be a referent of men],” “[I write on the planks],” and “Account of the Voyage.”

Jonathan Littell

I also liked to go out in the street like that, with this lace underwear beneath my clothes: it produced a strange sensation in me—light and floating, as if both sexes at once were strolling in my body through the city.

Jonathan Littell received the Prix Goncourt for his 2006 debut novel The Kindly Ones, called by Time magazine “unmistakably the work of a profoundly gifted writer.” After the astonishing success of his debut novel, Littell began publishing more books with two of France’s most prestigious houses: Gallimard and the small Montpellier publisher Fata Morgana. To the latter he gave four strange novellas revolving around sex, love, and memory. We were proud to publish them in one volume as The Fata Morgana Books, translated by the very talented Charlotte Mandell (the translator of Mathias Énard’s Compass).

The Fata Morgana Books is now 75% off. The New Yorker wrote, “The writing is sinuous and propulsive; disturbing images are rendered with icy, swift precision.” Fans of Italo Calvino and Clarice Lispector must read Jonathan Littell.